Voicing concern over the dropout rate of school children, Right to Education (RTE) Forum national convener Ambarish Rai Thursday said 100 percent retention should be ensured in primary and upper primary classes. "A mechanism should be evolved to monitor the real percentage of regular attendance. The enrolment should have reached 100 percent during the three-year deadline for the implementation of the RTE Act, 2009," he said in a statement.
Rai's statement came as a reaction to the findings of the recent Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) that revealed that "at the All India level, the proportion of girls in the 11 to 14 age group, not enrolled in schools, dropped from six percent in 2012 to 5.5 percent in 2013." The report, published by the Pratham Education Foundation, said the enrolment in the 6-14 age group is very high with more than 96 percent of the children in schools. "In spite of these improvements, the issues of quality of learning have remained largely neglected over the last nine years," Pratham Education Foundation chief executive and president Madhav Chavan said in the report. "There are several major challenges for the education sector, from introducing at least one year of pre-school education to building mechanisms for open learning, continuing education, vocational training and quality education and research at the university level," he added. He said the issues of the "dramatic shift to private school enrolment in rural areas and the crisis of learning" need to be urgently tackled.
The report, in its ninth edition, is based on data from 550 rural districts with close to 16,000 villages and six lakh children in the age group of three to 16 years. It said that "among class V children enrolled in government schools, the percentage of children able to read class II level text decreased from 50.3 percent (2009) to 43.8 percent (2011) to 41.1 percent (2013)." "In 2010, 33.2 percent children of class III in government schools could at least do subtraction as compared to 47.8 percent in private schools.
The gap between children in government and private schools has widened over time. "In 2013, 18.9 percent of class III students in government schools were able to do basic subtraction or more as compared to 44.6 percent in private schools," the report said. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who released the report Wednesday, said the results in terms of learning achievements are "surprisingly disappointing" and suggested a similar study in the urban areas.